Sunday, February 23, 2014

DON'T follow your passion?!

Thanks to the Farnam Street Blog (which I highly recommend to anyone who will listen), I just watched an intriguing video that featured Cal Newport, the author of Maximize Your Potential. He presents the idea that telling people to "follow your passion" is actually detrimental advice, and that instead, people should work hard at what they do in order to become so good that they "can't be ignored." Being a master at what you do is the way to take control over your life so you can then mold your work into the life that you want.

That's perhaps an oversimplification of what he says, but I thought it was intriguing. Mr. Newport reported that in a study of Canadian college students (those Canucks just love being studied, don't they?), no more than 5% of them even had an identifiable passion to begin with, which would make the typical "follow your passion" advice meaningless, if not even somewhat cruel. I myself have struggled with finding a passion that was enough fun to try to do for a living. But in the end, it turns out, I just need to practice something enough to get really good at it. (Mr. Newport recommends something called "Deep Work" which is essentially working very hard at what you do in a systematic way.)

I highly recommend watching the video. Even if you're not struggling to either find or work at your passion, he has some good advice that applies to everyone. Plus, he's pretty charming... (wink)

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